The January thaw is in full swing and I could not make it up north this weekend so, I went to my trusted back up... Monadnock. When I just need to get out, I head to the Old Toll Road trailhead which is about 10 minutes from my house. No need to get up super early for this one. The Old Toll Road trailhead is not maintained in winter but because there is a residence close to the trail, the road to the home is maintained. Parking can be pretty tight though and use the iron ranger for the fee. Oh, and no dogs allowed on Monadnock (I'll say more on that later). So, it's about a mile up the road tot he White Arrow Trail and from there it's a mile to the summit. Some day's this could be just a two hour trip for me. But today, I'm in no rush. Road walks don't usually bother me so, when I get to the actual start of the White arrow trail, I'm greeted with ice... As I had suspected.
There was another hiker determined to make the summit as this was her first solo hike. I'm not so eager. Being so close to home, I have that luxury. So, I decide to see what happens. Ice on the trail builds as I ascend. I know this trail cold so, I am aware of certain sections that will have more ice than others. I am eager to get to the "waterfall" before tree line.
Most sections can be walked up with Microspikes (your choice of Kahtoolas or Hillsounds). One small bridge on a very small water crossing, should firm up when the temps drop again. Intact, the conditions will firm up and get even icier over the next 72 hours (ice/sleet/freezing rain/rain moves in). It's foggy and I'm aware that there will be no view. I reach what I like to call the water fall. It's really just an over active stream that needs a water bar or two to divert it from the trail. In the winter time, this water fall is nothing but flow ice. Lots of thick blue ice that you can walk on with microspikes or you can bushwhack around on the right side. Your choice depending on comfort. I chose the whack since I'm not even close to 100% with what ever I have going on in me. I really don't want to fall on hands and wrists that are already afflicted with "something". I generally like this section and this trail to the top. It's quick and easy... Usually. Today, I can already feel the freezing rain getting ready to greet me at tree line.... Not worth it. I can climb this peak on a good day after work and still make it home to cook a decent dinner. Today, I just needed to stretch my legs and get away from my thoughts and the world for a while.
I head back the way I came and in reverse, the ice flows are pretty easy to grip into. I do try and at least let people know the conditions I experience. Especially on a day like today. Some get snippy but that's on them. I still ran into plenty thinking that they could hike in jeans and other street cloths too but I'm kind of done with the lecturing. You make your own choices when you enter the trails... Monadnock is a well traveled mountain but it still deserves respect. Many get hurt on this peak. Many also get lost as well. I ran into one old timer that I absolutely loved. Don't know him and it doesn't much matter. He's just has happy as I am to be out today, summit or not. It was really nice to end my day on that note. Once back at the car, there's a couple getting ready to ascend. I give them the conditions I had and note that they are prepared with all the right gear... There's a German Shepard Dog barking away in the car... No dogs allowed at Monadnock. He's staying in the car, while they hike. I just could not do that to my dog. Not in the heat of the summer and not in the cold of the winter. Please, jus leave your dogs at home.
I needed to get out and stretch my legs today so that I can keep my mind off of Tuesday. Tuesday I head back to the doctors to figure out why I am so tired and why my hands and feet are so swollen. I am hopeful for some answers but anxious all the same. Of course, I am keeping my focus on the Long Trail coming up in June. My new tent arrives tomorrow from Lightheart Gear. I'm waiting until after Tuesday to figure out what my conditioning for the LT will look like. I would love to get back to the 4K's and the AT but I think there's a lot of healing to be done first.